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Joan, Veterinary Technician
Category: Reptile
Satisfied Customers: 18515
Experience:  35+ years experience as veterinary tech and 40+ years experience doing reptile rescues.
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Bearded Dragon with anorexia, loose stool, lethargy and poor

Customer Question

Bearded Dragon with anorexia, loose stool, lethargy and poor body condition. Suspect intestinal parasitism ( coccidia, flagellates, other parasites) or possible adenovirus. Client is in route for evaluation and fecal float / direct float for flagellates.
What to look for? Treatment for coccidia or flagellates? Diagnostics for adenovirus? Fluid administration route if needed? Vitamin / antibiotic recomendations if adenovirus or other indications for use are present? Recommendations? Dr. Ken Neal
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Reptile
Expert:  Joan replied 6 years ago.


I just signed on and see you have been waiting. Our specialty Experts come on at various times. I am a Vet tech. Would you like me to assist you? I have been doing Reptile Rescue for 14+ years.

I can supply some information on your request. Please let me know if you would like me to assist you. I have a specail interest in bearded Dragons. Joan

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Please let me know what additional information you require. I did an exam on "Spike", a bearded dragon on Sat. 4/16/11. It is a male and 15 mos. old. The direct fecal did show some flagellates but I am uncertain whether these were normal flora. The fecal float was positive for coccidia in rather low numbers and a few ova of Pentastomid. There were also several RBC's noted. He weighed .7 kg.

I was concerned at how pale and lethargic "Spike" was on presentation. He was dehydrated approximately 5-7% and very thin. The feces were rather loose and pasty. There were no resp. signs. He is completely anorexic. I perfomed a v/d abdom. xray and all was normal except some mineralization of the ribs at the costochondral junction of rib 5 and 6 on the right side.

Treatment Administered:

1. .015 cc IVM IM. (to be repeated in 4 wks)

2. 35 mg of oral Panacur (to be repeated in 2 wks)

3. Fluid administration.Forced fed small amt of mealy worms provided and gave 3 cc water PO.

4. Baytril (enrofloxacin) 10 mg PO

Owner was advised to get a good vitamin supplement from the pet store with an emphasis on Calcium. He was advised to maintain strict cage hygeine and to remove all feces promptly to prevent re-contamination. Lighting and heat requirements were discussed and seem to be in compliance.

Any other suggestions and help from your experts would be helpful.

Sincerely, XXXXX XXXXX
Expert:  Joan replied 6 years ago.


The first thing you need to find out about is husbandry as the Pet shops give incorrect information. Many owners buy calci sand or desert blend which is a walnut shell, which both are deadly and cause intestinal impactions. You can view these two links to understand the dangers:

Walnut shell Graphic: calci sand

I suggest a solid substrate that can be paper, tile, cage carpet, or slate.

The next issue we see is a problem with UVB. They need to be using a tube type UVB bulb Reptisun 10.0 that extends the length of the tank. They need to be sure there is no plastic or glass between the Dragon and bulb. There should be no more than 12" between the light and the Dragon.The temps should be measured with a digital thermometer or a temp gun. If the temps are off the Dragon will not eat. They need a basking light that should supply 110*F-115*F and on the cool side, the temps should be in the 90's. The best feeders are silk worms, phoenix worms, crickets and roaches. The soft bodied feeders are better because of the chitin in meal worms. Flagelletes are common and needed for digestion, so I would not worry about them. I would start the Dragon on a probiotic like Forteflora or Benbac. The Probiotics will be needed becuase of the medications given. If you scroll down this is general information by a Herp Vet on various issues we see. It addressed treatment for the parasite issues:

All prey and greens should be dusted 5 days a week with calcium and and 2 days a week with a Vitamin. In the morning after 1 hour Veggies should be offered. I suggest high calcium greens like collards, mustards, escarole, curly endives and dandelions. Other veggies can be butternut squash, green beans and various berries.

As far as Adenovirus there are only two labs that will run the tests, one is at Univeristy of Fla. and the other is University of IL> Here is the link for PCR testing: Lou XXXXX XXXXX, MT(ASCP)
Service Supervisor
Center for Microscopic Imaging
College of Veterinary Medicine
Rm 1204 VMBSB
2001 S Lincoln Ave
Urbana, IL 61802

Email:[email protected]
This is a link to reptile Rooms by Cheri S who has been doing studies on Adenovirus:


At this point I would put the Dragon on a slurry of purred greens, Meat flavored baby food, calcium powder, Bee Pollen, Royal Jelly and a Probiotic. This can be syringe fed with care to avoid Aspiration pneumonia. You may have to show how to tube feed or how to safely syringe feed. You have have them do a daily soak for dehydration by soaking for 30 mins in a 50/50 warm water bath and Plain Pedialyte.

As far as the fecal tests,since you found Coccidia,you may want to treat with Albon and expalin procedures that are used for sanitation. I will also give my care sheet that you can print and go over with the Client. Please let me know if you need more help. Joan


Bearded Dragon Care Sheet

  • Bearded dragons should be housed alone.

  • Ages of bearded dragons follow these guidelines:

1. 0-3 months- baby
2. 3-12 months-juvenile
3. 12-18 months- sub adult
4. 18 months + -adult

  • Bearded dragons live as much as 10-12 years if well cared for properly.
  • Bearded dragons have a very good temperament as long as they are cared for and handled.
  • When you bring your baby home, it may be quite stressful to him/her to get use to new home. May not eat well the first 2-3 days. They may not need to be handled the first 2-3 days if skittish and nervous.
  • Never use sand or any other type of loose substrate: Loose substrates can cause impaction (not being able to go Poop) in all ages of bearded dragons- they lick their environment to explore .It is difficult to keep germ free and clean. Ceramic tile, newspaper, non adhesive shelf liner and reptile carpet is what is most recommended. Use paper towels for the little one and as they get bigger you can change to something else.
  • Be sure you keep your beardies home as clean as you can. Clean up by spot cleaning when needed. Clean & sanitize entire tank every 10-14 days. A good cleaning solution is a 20% bleach solution. If you choose to use wood climbing branches etc, these should be soaked in the bleach solution and rinsed well. Then bake in 250 degree oven for 30 minutes.
  • Need a climbing accessory: to bask and to warm up under basking heat light and lower branches or platforms to come down and cool off.
  • A hide of some sort like a cave.
  • A food dish and water dish.
  • Plastic spray bottle
  • Can use artificial plants when they get older- 3 months or so.
  • Digital thermostat and/or temp gun
  • Tank size: Minimal size tank for this age is 20 gallon long
  • Minimal size for older beardie: 4 months of age: 40 gallon breeder is the minimal tank size for older dragon. Can divide a 40 gallon breeder for a smaller dragon. Must have two lights for your beardie.

1. A UVB light source-best is 10.0 Reptisun that runs the length of your tank. Your dragon must have this light to metabolize calcium. If not he will get metabolic bone disease, a serious condition. You can also take your beardie outside to bask in the sun for 15 minutes each day if your temps are 80 degrees or above outside. You can purchase cages or reptariums from your pet store. Never leave a beardie outside unattended.
2. A basking type light that puts out heat and warmth above basking spot. Your beardie must have warmth to digest food & thrive.

  • Lights should be on for 12-14 hours each day. Follow the seasons and light timers are a great luxury if you can get them. 6 dollars at Lowe's. No lights or warmth needed at night unless your temperatures get below 62 degrees. If they do, there are ceramic heat emitters that put out no light, only heat. Use these at night if temperatures fall below 62 degrees.


  • Temperatures have to be kept at the following ranges during the day:

Babies: Warm basking log: 105-125 degrees F
Cool side: 85-90
Adults: Warm basking spot: 110-115
Cool side: 80-85
Measure temperatures with a digital probe type thermometer or a temp gun-these are most accurate. Stick on thermometers unreliable.

  • Feeding a Beardie: Beardies eat live prey consisting of crickets, roaches and/or silkworms. Never feed any size of mice to your beardie. Never feed meal worms. They also must be given greens/veggies everyday. The younger they are the more live prey they should have. As they grow older the live prey decreases and the veggies/greens should be the major part of diet. Never feed anything bigger, than the space between your beardie's eyes. This includes both live prey and pieces of veggies/greens,
  • A chopper or food processor is a huge help when your beardie is small. Always offer greens and veggies: collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, cabbage, red cabbage, fresh green beans, yellow summer squash, butternut squash, sweet potato, cactus pad. Apricots, strawberries, apples, blueberries, raspberries, cantaloupe- fruits are treats only.
  • What is live prey? The easiest and less expensive live prey is crickets when you have a young or first beardie. The other live preys you can feed are silkworms, and special types of roaches. You can learn to raise your own live prey. Treats can be wax worms, super worms, and tomato/Goliath worms. You may find that ordering live prey from the internet is the way to go..... Never leave live prey or greens/veggies in tank overnight. . Crickets can bite your beardie when sleeping.
  • Babies should get 80% live prey, and 20 % greens/veggies. But since the greens/veggies are a must when they are older, get them eating their greens/veggies very early. Give greens/veggies in small pieces everyday. You should eventually start decreasing your older dragon's protein intake when they are about a year to 15 months old. Their protein intake decreases to 20 % live prey and 80% veggies/greens.
  • A baby eat 50-75 crix a day depnding on the size of the crickets. Never feed crix or veggies bigger than the space between your beardie's eyes. Use this guide when buying crix or chopping your greens/veggies.
  • You must provide calcium dust without D3 and multivitamin dust for your beardie. You should dust the live prey with calcium one time a day, and vitamins 3 times a week. Just collect your live prey into baggie and add enough calcium and vitamin to dust them. Then pour a few at a time into your tank. Some people feed their beardie in a separate tank so that no crickets can hide. Or some take out "furniture" from tank and feed this way. As they get older, 4-5 months or so dust live prey with calcium 3 times a week.
  • Feed the veggies/ greens 1st thing in morning after lights on for one hour at least. Then after 2-3 hours offer crix. Then freshen green/veggies. Then give more crix. Make sure after last crix feeding there is at least 1-2 hours of lights so that they can digest their food before night time.

*Beardies over the age of one year old during the winter months will go into a Brumation like most Reptiles and Herps. It is a form of Hibernation that is governed by the weather and time of year. The lights should be on a shorter period at this time. Fresh greens should be available during this period. Do not feed live prey during Brumation.

Water: Mist your little one with the spray bottle 3-4 times a day. You can also offer a small dish of water in your enclosure but be sure your dragon is not too small to drown in it. It is recommended that when your beardie is 2 months old you can bathe your baby in a small plastic container with warm water- not hot. It will help them to stay hydrated. As they get older you can move up to the bathroom sink and then to the bathtub. Very important for bath enclosure to be thoroughly cleaned and rinsed prior to bath time. Clean between dragons too if bathing more than one.

If you have any further questions feel free to ask. I like to start people off with proper husbandry and then see if I can further assist. This is for fruits and Vegetables


sexing bearded Dragons:


compact UVB problems:

Expert:  Joan replied 6 years ago.


I just realized that you had given Ivermectin which is toxic to most reptiles. I would have them bring the Dragon back in and go over all that has been done. I am going to give you a Medical sheet with acceptable medications for Reptiles. Merck, the maker of ivermectin, does not recommend its use in reptiles. Often fatal or nearly so to small, debilitated reptiles. May cause paralysis, blindness. Joan